Tonight I’m talking at a doctors’ awards ceremony in Wales for clinical teacher of the year. Medical academics, or doctors’ teachers need to prove their value, hard to do when you answer to various employers and research budgets are getting axed.
For you readers with more general interest and in case of garble tonight, here’s the gist of the talk: a guide to spin for doctors – and anyone else who needs to influence.
Fixate on Problems and Cravings
Break your influencing targets down into specific interest groups. What problems and what cravings do they have? You want to solve some of the first and satisfy the latter. I’ve found politicians listen to: ‘Excuse me minister, I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but there’s risk you’re making yourself look very vulnerable here’.
Irrefutably this has worked, cross party, cross gender…
Let Your Fortress Walls Crumble
Remember that under attack we tend to reinforce our fortress walls; that is, emphasise the institution and authority of that institution. And undoubtedly, the BMA as voice of doctors in UK will carry much clout.
But sites like Howard Rheingold university.com from a US academic at Berkeley and Stanford are now appearing, and entities like the church, the law, job titles MP or auditor just do not carry the credibility they used to.
Today’s spin is less about preemptive strike and pulling up the drawbridge and more about engaging, collaborating and starting conversation. It’s essential to combat groupthink : where unwelcome feedback is ignored and overlooked, only to appear later in pernicious, unexpected form ( known as an assange).
But Position and Profile Your Value and Impact
Championing any cause these days requires forensic attention to opportunities and long tentacle, octopus thinking . Last year. John Lewis adverts appeared in mac rumours threads ( discussion on customer service) and Guido Fawkes’s blog ( visited by MPs using the John Lewis price guidance list )
Our lateralized media allows much scope for interesting placement of surprising case histories and relevant stories.
Be Tightly Focussed and Specific in Your Demands
Bombarding people with many itemized requests either indicates we think we are more significant than we may be in the great scheme of things – or we have no sense of the world from their perspective, at all. Once we get past three demands, it starts to get gruelling listening anyway…
An eminence grise of spin ( who some would call very grisey) loved the question: ‘What is this person most scared of being found out not to be? ’ as a way of angling specific reassurance to a target.
Use All Media
Full and open use of online media is cheap and reputation-enhancing, most of us know that. But my instinct is that some online communities of practice may be languishing in cyberspace because of insufficient live connection. Note the music biz: counteracting downside of digital via live gigs and merchandizing. So meet up and learn: knowledge transfer being posh words for gossip.
Go for Passion and Pith
A cause like medical education has passionate roots for most of us. Who doesn’t remember doing well/badly based on relating to a teacher? Strong core messages for a cause based on feelings are best: who wouldn’t want safer doctors, for instance?
And the words matter: ‘doctor teaching’ is much more appealing and direct than ‘medical academia’.
Now apologies to any sensitive readers, disturbed by finding the words doctor and spin next to each other. But if research isn’t conveyed and communicated via the best means possible, how can that research be of relevance and value?
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